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iPhone software update squashes location-data 'bugs'

With the software update, geodata will no longer be stored long-term on your phone or computer.
With the software update, geodata will no longer be stored long-term on your phone or computer.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The update reduces the size of the file that stores geodata on iOS devices
  • iTunes won't back up the iOS device's location database file
  • Disable location services setting; it deletes all the info stored in the location file
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(WIRED) -- On Wednesday, Apple released a software update for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices, fixing a flawed location-storage method that raised privacy concerns last month.

The update, iOS version 4.3.3, reduces the size of the file that stores geodata on iOS devices -- meaning it will no longer contain a history of location data going back as far as one year ago.

Additionally, with the update installed, iTunes won't back up the iOS device's location database file, meaning the geodata will no longer be stored on your computer.

Last, when customers disable the Location Services setting on their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it deletes all the information stored in the location file, according to Apple.

The software update comes in response to a security issue illuminated by two data scientists, who discovered that an unprotected file inside Apple's iOS software stores a log of geodata accompanied with time stamps, creating a digital trail of a customer's general moves for the past year.

The Wall Street Journal later reported that even when location services were turned off on the iPhone, the device was still collecting geodata.

Apple eventually explained that iOS devices are not actually tracking a customer's precise movements, but rather, iOS devices are collecting information about nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi access points, which helps speed up location services.

The company added that "bugs" caused iOS devices to continue storing location data even when location services were turned off. Apple also said it made a mistake by making the location database file too large.

The iOS 4.3.3 update is a free download available through iTunes. The download is 666 megabytes large.

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Copyright 2011 Wired.com.

[TECH: NEWSPULSE]

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